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India launches its own weather satellite SCATSAT-1 into orbit

It said the SCATSAT-1's scatterometer will provide wind vector data products for weather forecasting, cyclone detection and tracking services to the users

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Image used for representative purpose only. Wikimedia

26 Sept, 2016: On Monday morning, India successfully put into orbit its own weather satellite SCATSAT-1 in a copy book style.

In the second phase of its mission, the rocket will launch seven other satellites – five foreign and two Indian – between 11.25 to 11.28 a.m., in a different orbit.

Exactly at 9.12 a.m., the PSLV rocket standing 44.4 metres tall and weighing 320 tonne tore into the morning skies with fierce orange flames at its tail.

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Gathering speed every second, the rocket raced towards the heavens amidst the cheers of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) officials and the media team assembled at the rocket port here.

At the rocket mission control room, Indian space scientists at ISRO were glued to their computer screens watching the rocket escaping the earth’s gravitational pull.

Seventeen minutes into the flight, the rocket’s main cargo, the 371 kg SCATSAT-1 – for ocean and weather related studies – was injected into a 730 km polar sun synchronous orbit.

Although SCATSAT-1 is a follow-on mission for Oceansat-2 improvements have been made in the satellite’s hardware configuration based on lessons learnt from Oceansat-2 instruments.

Also SCATSAT-1’s payload has been characterised with the objective of achieving data quality for Climate Data Records, apart from facilitating routine meteorological applications, the ISRO said.

It said the SCATSAT-1’s scatterometer will provide wind vector data products for weather forecasting, cyclone detection and tracking services to the users.

The satellite carries Ku-band scatterometer similar to the one flown onboard Oceansat-2.

The mission life of the satellite is five years.

The remaining seven satellites will be placed in a 689 km polar orbit later.

These seven satellites include five foreign satellites: three from Algeria (Alsat-1B 103kg, Alsat-2B 117kg, Alsat-1N 7kg), and one each from Canada (NLS-19, 8kg) and US (Pathfinder-44kg).

The two other Indian satellites are: Pratham (10kg) built by Indian Institute of Technology-Bombay (IIT-B) and Pisat (5.25 kg) from PES University, Bengaluru and its consortium.

According to the ISRO, the two Algerian satellites Alsat-1B and Alsat-2B are remote sensing satellites while Alsat-1N is a technology demonstration nano satellite for Algerian students.

On the other hand, the US satellite Pathfinder-1 is a commercial high resolution imaging micro satellite while the Canadian NLS-19 satellite is la technology demonstration nano satellite for experimentation in helping to reduce space debris and for tracking commercial aircraft.

The IIT-B’s satellite Pratham’s mission objective is to estimate the total electron count with a resolution of 1km x 1km location grid while Pisat from PES University and its consortium is a nano satellite for remote sensing applications.

After slinging SCATSAT-1 into its orbit the rocket’s fourth stage will be restarted one hour 22 minutes into the flight and cut off around 20 seconds later.

Two hours and 11 minutes into the flight the fourth stage will again be restarted to be cut offAone minute later.

Following that in three minutes all the seven satellites will be ejected putting an end to PSLV’s longest mission till date.

The PSLV rocket is a four stage/engine rocket powered by solid and liquid fuel alternatively.

Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC) director K. Sivan told IANS on Sunday that the long time gap between the cutting off of the engine and its restart was not an issue.

Sivan said the first time the multiple burn technology was first tested by ISRO while flying its PSLV rocket on December 16, 2015 and in June 2016, the technology was again demonstrated.

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About the challenge, Sivan said: “After cutting off the engine, its condition should be brought to such a stage that it could be restarted again. The next challenge is to controlling the engine and bringing it so as to eject the remaining satellites into a different orbit.”

He said the rocket has GPS aided navigation system so that data generated by the rocket’s inertial navigation system and the one provided by the former will be blended so as to erase and errors and to generate a precise data. (IANS)

Next Story

Vikram Lander Spotted On Moon

The Vikram moonlander was sent by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) aboard the Chandraayan 2 that orbited the moon

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India’s Vikram lunar lander
India’s Vikram lunar lander, which crashed on its final approach to the Moon’s surface in September, has been found. Pixabay

BY ARUL LOUIS 

Shanmuga Subramanian, the eagle-eyed citizen space scientist who found Vikram moonlander said on Tuesday that he took spotting it as a challenge when NASA couldn’t.

He said in an email interview to IANS: “It was something challenging as even NASA can’t find out so why can’t we try out? And that’s the thought that led me to search for Vikram lander.”

Subramanian, who works as an information technology architect, in his spare time looked through the images taken by NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) camera on September 17 and spotted a debris from Vikram.

Those images were taken when the light during moon’s dusk was very harsh at the place where the moonlander crashed and the long shadows made the hunt for Vikram difficult, NASA and LRO said at that time.

LRO Project Scientist Noah Petro, to whom Subramanian emailed his finding, told IANS: “The story of this really amazing individual (who) found it, helped us find it, is really awesome.”

The Vikram moonlander was sent by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) aboard the Chandraayan 2 that orbited the moon.

Vikram was launched from Chandrayaan on September 6 in hopes of making a safelanding and exploring the moon’s surface. However, it lost contact with ISRO minutes before the scheduled landing and crashed.

Vikram Moon Lander
A Moon landing is the arrival of a spacecraft on the surface of the Moon. Pixabay

Petro said: “This is the wonderful thing about our data. We released it for the world and anyone can use and he used it to make this discovery.”

Subramanian suggested a crowd-sourced citizen scientist movement to help space organisations.

“LRO’s data is a treasure trove. I would suggest students and others to help out NASA, ISRO and other space organisations by building a good database of LRO images with features like comparison etc.,” Subramanian told IANS.

“Currently we have to compare it manually (and I) wish someone can do more on that, with NASA’s scientists time crunched for their Moon missions,” he added.

Asked how he got interested, Subramanian said: “Space exploration is nothing new for me as I have been interested in space right from the scratch and watched ISRO’s rocket launches closely even managed to capture some of it on my YouTube channel.

“I don’t think Vikram lander would have made a such impact on the minds of the Indian public if it had landed successfully (but) since it was lost there was a lot of discussion in public forums as well as on my Facebook regarding what malfunctioned etc.

“The crash landing of Vikram made more people interested in it and it also got eventually hooked me, which lead to me searching NASA’s pic for nearly some 4-5 hours every night.”

Subramanian spoke of the social media world of space enthusiasts where intense discussions were taking place about the mystery of Vikram and which helped his quest.

“Initially there was lot of false positives I got (that were) corrected by Twitterati and one of the tweets led to me a Reddit forum where they had the exact intended landing location and the path of Vikram,” he said.

Vikram on moon
The Moon is an astronomical body that orbits the Earth as its only permanent natural satellite. Pixabay

On being able to narrow down the area for his search, he said: “Though there was no data available about the path of Vikram lander, I eventually concluded it would have come from North Pole as one of the tweets from ‘cgbassa’ said Vikram has crossed the North Pole of the moon. And from ISRO’s live images, I made out it would have stopped short of around 1 km from the landing spot so it eventually led to me searching around 2 sq km around the landing area.”

That tweet was from CG Bassa, an astronomer with Astron, the Dutch radio astronomy institute.

ALSO READ: Nations and their Moon Missions

After better pictures came from the LRO’s pass over the area in October and on November 11, when the light conditions improved, the LRO camera team scoured the area surrounding the spot where Subramanian had spotted a debris and found the impact spot of Vikram’s crash and other debris, the ASU said.

The impact site is located at 70.8810AoS, 22.7840AoE, at an elevation of 834 metres, it added. (IANS)

2 responses to “Vikram Lander Spotted On Moon”

  1. Before the launch of the Chandrayana 2 mission, I read that the lunar orbiter has the best moon orbiting camera. Form the very beginning of the moon landing failure, I was wondering, why there are no images received from the ISRO lunar module orbiting. All we learned over next many days was about the images taken by NASA orbitor. Just now, statement of ISRO says, ISRO orbitor has located and photographed the failed lander. But most of the news feeds show the photograph of ISRO chief K. Sivan, and not of lunar surface where the lander is found ! Is this science reporting standard of ISRO ?

  2. So what? The lander crashed at the end of the day or night or whatever… Grow up people we have grown out of these cock and bull stories; haven’t we?!